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Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Thinkquote of the day: Intelligent design and common ancestry

On ID biochemist Michael Behe (he of Darwin's Black Box fame) accepting common ancestry, Tom Woodward writes,
The fact that he provisionally accepts common ancestry and yet remains a star in good standing shows Design's flexibility in tolerating members' evolutionary beliefs on certain topics." (Woodward T.E., Doubts about Darwin: A History of Intelligent Design , Baker: Grand Rapids MI, 2003, p.199)

Indeed. The key intelligent design question is whether information in the universe is top down or bottom up . Put simply, is there a mind behind the universe or did it just somehow happen? As George Gilder rightly says, that is the fundamental question.

Common ancestry is an issue for young earth creationists who insist that the Earth is only a few thousand years old. But most of us do not need to believe that. We do, however, need to ask whether the universe and life forms show evidence of intelligent design. Of course, if God designed the universe, he can certainly arrange that different models "roll out" on a sort of schedule, building on earlier models. Whether that is the best explanation of the data may be questioned., of course - unless you are a materialist.

In that case, you must assume that common ancestry is true, whether the data support it or not. Common ancestry is the only circumstance that provides even weak evidence for a bottom-up view of intelligence, which sees mind as arising by slow degrees from mud.

For the record, I do not have a problem with common ancestry, any more than Mike Behe does, but I want to sharply distinguish that from a need to believe in common ancestry, to support materialism. It would make no difference to me if someone came along and showed it wasn't true. Then, biology, like physics, would lack a grand unifying theory. But so?

By the way, sorry for not blogging for a few days. Migraine. Please do not e-mail me with migraine remedies. Contact your local patent office instead. Put your suggestion in the public domain, and share the good news with the whole planet
If you like this blog, check out my book on the intelligent design controversy, By Design or by Chance?. You can read excerpts as well.

Are you looking for one of the following stories?

A summary of tech guru George Gilder's arguments for ID and against Darwinism

A critical look at why March of the Penguins was thought to be an ID film.

A summary of recent opinion columns on the ID controversy

A summary of recent polls of US public opinion on the ID controversy

A summary of the Catholic Church's entry into the controversy, essentially on the side of ID.

O'Leary's intro to non-Darwinian agnostic philosopher David Stove's critique of Darwinism.

An ID Timeline: The ID folk seem always to win when they lose.

O’Leary’s comments on Francis Beckwith, a Dembski associate, being denied tenure at Baylor.

Why origin of life is such a difficult problem.
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